PASCO COUNTY, United States — Former Toronto Blue Jays star pitcher Roy Halladay died Tuesday after his plane crashed in the Gulf of Mexico. He was 40.
The sheriff’s department in Pasco County, Fla., confirmed Halladay’s body was found at the scene of the crash. At a news conference, Sheriff Chris Nocco — who knew Halladay — said the ICON A5 went down about noon Eastern Time near Holiday, Fla.
“He was probably one of the most humble human beings you’ll ever meet,” Nocco said. “For somebody who won two Cy Youngs, as I said one of the greatest pitchers in baseball, he would walk in the room as if he was just anybody. It didn’t matter who he met, he was kind and generous.”
The sheriff’s office marine unit responded to the downed plane and found Halladay’s body.
No survivors were found. Police said they couldn’t confirm if there were additional passengers on the plane or say where it was headed.
Halladay was an amateur pilot who often posted on social media about small planes. ICON aircraft had posted a video with Halladay trying out a new plane.
Halladay won a Cy Young Award with the Blue Jays in 2003 and took the NL award in 2010 with the Philadelphia Phillies. He threw the 20th perfect game in MLB history on May 29, 2010.
The native of Denver, Colo., was selected by the Blue Jays in the first round (No. 17 overall) of the 1995 MLB Amateur Draft.
The six-foot-six 225-pound right-hander made his big-league debut with Toronto in 1998 and became a regular the following season. He broke out in the 2002 campaign with a 19-7 record and 2.93 earned-run average over 239 1/3 innings.
In his AL Cy Young season, Halladay went 22-7 with a 3.25 ERA and nine complete games over 266 innings.
A face of the franchise for most of his 12-year run in Toronto, he was dealt to Philadelphia in December 2009. Halladay won the NL Cy Young in his first season with the Phillies, going 21-10 in 2010 with a 2.44 ERA and nine complete games.
He spent four seasons in Philadelphia before retiring.
“We are numb over the very tragic news about Roy Halladay’s untimely death,” the Phillies said in a statement. “There are no words to describe the sadness that the entire Phillies family is feeling over the loss of one of the most respected human beings to ever play the game. It is with the heaviest of hearts that we pass along our condolences to Brandy, Ryan and Braden.”
In late 2013, Halladay signed a one-day free-agent contract with Toronto so he could retire as a Blue Jay. Over 16 seasons in the major leagues, Halladay had a 203-105 record and 3.38 ERA.
Other baseball players to die in plane crashes included Pittsburgh Pirates star Roberto Clemente in a relief mission from Puerto Rico travelling to earthquake victims in Nicaragua on New Year’s Eve in 1972; New York Yankees catcher Thurman Munson piloting his own plane near his home in Canton, Ohio, in 1979; and Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle piloting his own plane in New York City in 2006.
With files from The Associated Press.
The Canadian Press